What To Do After a Home Fire
Photo of one of the many homes damaged from last week's gas related fires and explosions.
Our hearts go out to the victims of the Merrimack Valley gas fires that struck the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover last Thursday. Often, the hardest part for residents after a home fire is knowing where to begin and who to contact. These tips taken from FEMA provide information on what to do after experiencing a tragic home fire.
Checklist for Next Steps After a Fire
Here are the steps to follow after a fire in your home:
- Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross. This will help you find a place to stay and to find food, clothing and medicine.
- If you have insurance, contact your insurance company. Ask what you should do to keep your home safe until it is repaired. Ask who you should talk to about cleaning up your home. If you are not insured, try contacting community groups for aid and assistance.
- Check with the fire department to make sure that your home is safe to enter. Be very careful when you go inside. Floors and walls may not be as safe as they look.
- The fire department will tell you if your utilities (water, electricity and gas) are safe to use. If not, firefighters will have your utilities shut off before they leave. Do not try to turn them back on by yourself. This could be very dangerous.
- Contact your landlord or mortgage company about the fire.
- If you leave your home, call the local police department to let the police know that the site will be vacant.
- Begin saving receipts for any money that you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and to prove any losses claimed on your income tax.
- Check with an accountant or the IRS about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.
Preventing Cooking Fires
Kitchen fires can be devastating. You can prepare and prevent cooking fires by following some simple safety tips.
Cooking Fire Preparedness
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Home fires are more likely to start in the kitchen than any other room in your house. Here are some facts and tips from mass.gov to help prevent kitchen fires.
Cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries according to MFIRS statistics.
Cooking Safety Tips
- Put a lid on a grease fire to smother it, then turn off the heat. Baking soda will also work.
- Never move a burning pan. You can be badly burned or spread the fire.
- Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on a grease fire. Water will only spread the fire and the force of the extinguisher can splash flaming grease out of the pan.
- Stand by your pan. Don’t leave food, grease or oils cooking on the stovetop unattended.
- Wear short or tight fitting sleeves when cooking. Loose fitting clothing can easily catch fire.
- If your clothing catches fire, STOP, DROP & ROLL to put out the flames. Put burns in cool running water. Call 9-1-1 for help.
- Keep pot handles turned inward to prevent accidental spills of hot contents. • Create a three-foot “child-free zone” around the stove. Keep children and pets away from the stove while cooking to prevent burns and scalds. Cooking Safety Tips (cont.)
- Keep combustible objects such as pot holders, towels, paper or plastic bags away from heating elements.
- For fires inside an oven or microwave, keep the door closed, turn off the appliance, and call the fire department.
- Don’t place any metal inside a microwave. Utensils, aluminum foil or twist-tie wraps can arc and cause a fire.
- Microwaved foods and liquids can become very hot. Use caution to avoid scalds.
- Unplug appliances, such as toasters and coffee makers, when not in use.
- Don’t use the oven to store items.
Following these tips will help you to prevent kitchen fires. However, should your home experience an unexpected disaster, contact us at SERVPRO of Haverhill/Newburyport at 978-374-8555. We’re here to help restore your property, like it never even happened.
When Storms or Floods Hit
Our highly trained crews are ready to respond 24/7 to storm or flood damage.
SERVPRO ofHaverhill/Newburyport specializes in storm and flood damage restoration. Our crews are highly trained and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.
Since we are locally owned and operated, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.
Have Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today 978-374-8555
September is National Preparedness Month. Devastating storms remind us of the importance of preparing for disasters. You can prepare now in the case of an emergency with these helpful tips from FEMA.
- Know types of flood risk in your area. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for information.
- Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
- If flash flooding is a risk in your location, then monitor potential signs, such as heavy rain.
- Learn and practice evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash flood response.
- Gather supplies in case you have to leave immediately, or if services are cut off. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets. Obtain extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment.
- Purchase or renew a flood insurance policy. It typically takes up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect and can protect the life you've built. Homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding. Get flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
- Keep important documents in a waterproof container. Create password-protected digital copies.
- Protect your property. Move valuables to higher levels. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves. Consider a sump pump with a battery.
Project Estimators Best TIps
This is an example of mold damage that occurred after the homeowner suffered water damage on the floor level.
Summer brings lots of outside activities and happy memories, lazy days at the beach and nights by the campfire. But it can also bring severe storms, like we saw last night, in the North Shore and Merrimack Valley area. Although these can move out as swiftly as they move in, we often experience heavy rains that the ground simply cannot absorb quickly enough. When that happens, water will find the downward path of least resistance, which can often be your basement.
We asked our Project Estimators, Brian Carifio and Ross Martin, what their best advice was to homeowners after heavy rainstorms. Here are their top tips:
- What’s the first thing you would advise a homeowner to check after a storm?
Brian Carifio: The Basement. Water will find its way there. Ideally, if they’ve been pre-emptive, they’ll have their contents up off of the floor on plastic shelving and/or in plastic containers. Keeping contents 2–4 inches off the floor will help to avoid most flooding concerns. If the water reaches above that, they have a whole other set of problems. Plus, content damage is not generally covered by insurance when due to flash flooding.
- Okay, they’ve done that but they still have water in the basement. What should they do next?
Brian Carifio: Call SERVPRO. Not to sound self-serving but the longer the homeowner waits…or tries to mitigate it themselves, the greater the probability of mold beginning to grow. Most DIY attempts at mitigating water damage fail simply because the necessary equipment is not available to consumers. You need strong extraction systems, high capacity dehumidifiers, and air movers (not to be confused with oscillating fans).
- What’s the worst thing a homeowner can do when they find water in their basement?
Ross Martin: Put an oscillating fan on the standing water. First of all, you can run the risk of electrocution. Beyond that, fans only whisk the air off the top of the water’s surface and move it into the air. Doing that without proper dehumidification in place can lead to mold on other surfaces.
- Can you explain that process more?
Ross Martin: Sure. When you have a flood, if left alone the water will eventually evaporate. But that doesn’t mean it disappears. It simply changes from a liquid to a gas and moves into the air. Moisture in the air is relative humidity. That humid (moisture heavy) air is then able to touch & attach to every single surface in that space and beyond. This is the “perfect storm” for mold growth.
Our process is to first extract the water with truck mounted vacuums, then use our air movers and dehumidifiers simultaneously. The movers circulate the air, keeping it from absorbing into surfaces while the dehumidifiers remove the moisture from the air.
- Can’t homeowners do this themselves?
Ross Martin: Yes and no. There are several points to consider. First, consider the weight of water (not the movie!). A gallon of water weighs 8.34 lbs and most shop vacs hold 10 gallons. That means you’re carrying 83.4 pounds upstairs, multiple times.
Secondly, most people have fans in their home and will put several on the affected wet areas, thinking this will dry it out. It won’t. Fans are not strong enough and they don’t actually dry anything. They just move the moisture off the top surface, dispersing it throughout the air.
And lastly, most consumer bought dehumidifiers are too small to effectively dry the air in an average sized basement. Most are purchased rated at 30 PPD (Pints Per Day). That’s how many pints of moisture it can handle per day. Our smallest is 70 PPD and goes up to over 133 PPD.
There are some steps you can take before help arrives though.
- Remove excess water by mopping and blotting.
- Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and tabletop items.
- Remove and prop wet upholstery and cushions.
- Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
- Turn air conditioning on for maximum drying in summer.
- Remove colored rugs from wet carpeting.
- Remove art objects to a safe, dry place.
- Gather loose items from floors.
Are You Selling A House With Mold?
Notice the dark, moisture stains on the back wall. This is an indicator mold is present. We began remediation by drying the air with a dehumidifier.
We all know Spring is when the real estate market "blossoms" with new listings, all new and sparkling after a long winter. Maybe you've spent time cleaning, painting and otherwise preparing your house for sale. What you may have overlooked though, is the presence of mold and/or moisture stains that can suggest mold is present. This would be a red flag to any buyer and could stop a sale in it's tracks, if not handled properly.
Mold spores occur naturally almost everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. These microscopic spores float along in the air and can enter a home or business through windows and HVAC systems.
Consider these facts:
- Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
- Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants.
- Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
- Mold often produces a strong, musty odor and can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
- Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.
Our highly trained Project Managers use state-of-the-art technology to take moisture readings that can indicate the likelihood of mold.
Armed with that knowledge, you can then make an informed decision on next steps for the sale of your home.
If you think you have mold, or have any other mold related questions, don't hesitate to call us. 978-374-8555.
SERVPRO ACTS OF GREEN!
Blue Spruce saplings packaged and ready to be delivered.
Every year, both of our franchises, SERVPRO of Haverhill/ Newburyport &
SERVPRO of Danvers/Ipswich support Earth Day by volunteering and/or donating resources. This year we'll be cleaning up Lafayette Square in Haverhill, MA with a group of employee volunteers, and donating water to the faithful group cleaning up trash on Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA.
This year we're going above & beyond by committing to 300 ACTS OF GREEN in support of The Earth Day Network's goal of 3 Billion Acts of Green, worldwide! Our sales reps Richard Ciarletta & Mary Ellen Lawlor will be out delivering Blue Spruce saplings, from Rogers Spring Hill Garden and Farm Center, to all our wonderful customers.
Join us and get involved in Earth Day! Make your world a better place to be!
Sewage Cleanup is a Biohazard
Sewage Cleanup and Restoration
Water from sewer system backups should be considered very dangerous. The water is grossly unsanitary and may contain bacteria and viruses that could cause serious illness. Special training and equipment are necessary to safely clean this type of contamination.
When a sewage backup happens, you need to move quickly. Evacuate young children, elderly, people with asthma and weak immune systems first. Then call a plumber to remedy the problem.
Sometimes you can manage small sewage spills without professional help. Small spills are typically confined to a bathroom or part of a kitchen. Major spills, however, require professional help. Sewage is a natural delivery method for disease and infection.
Sewage Backup or Toilet Overflow? Call Us Today – (978) 374-8555
There are three major types of contaminated water. SERVPRO of Haverhill/Newburyport will inspect that contaminated water to determine the type of water and then plan the appropriate response to safely restore your home or business.
SERVPRO of Haverhill/Newburyport Supports Earth Day 2018
Earth Day 2018 Focuses on Ending End Plastic Pollution
Countdown to April 22!
This year's Earth Day focus is on reducing plastic pollution in our communities and oceans. SERVPRO is proud to be a part of this very important community event! You'll find several of our employees, friends, and family out helping to clean up the city on this very important day.
SERVPRO Committed to 300 "Acts Of Green"!
With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day fast approaching in 2020, Earth Day Network is launching a series of major campaigns to catalyze and channel global collaboration for the health of our planet.
SERVPRO has committed to 300 Acts of Green by delivering 6" Blue Spruce sapling trees to local businesses. This not only supports this very worthy cause but in light of all the recent tree damage our area has suffered, we are "re-greening" our neighborhoods!
We hope you will join us in supporting your local community on April 22. You can also support the Earth Day Network campaign by creating your own Act of Green, and helping them reach 3 billion.
Frosty's Not The Only One At Risk!
Protecting Your Home from Melting Snow When temperatures begin to rise after a long winter, it can certainly be reason to celebrate. But if you've got significant snow accumulation on, or around, your home it can also be cause for concern. And not just for Frosty! Here are some tips to help prevent damage to your home as snow starts melting.
- Remove snow from around your home: snow accumulation near your foundation, windows, and doors can leak into your home once it starts to melt. Remember to shovel any decks, driveways or patios that slope towards your home.
- Check your roof and gutters: consider hiring a professional to remove the snow from your roof so that water run-off is at a minimum once temperatures rise. If that's not possible, be sure that your gutters are clear so that the water will have a path away from your home. If possible, attach a sloped leader to your downspout that leads run-off at least 10ft from your home.
- Test your sump pump: if water does get into your basement, you want to be sure it is taken care of quickly. Before the snow starts to melt, test your sump pump and your sump pump discharge pipe to ensure it's in working order.
- Clear snow from drainage areas: storm drains and catch basins can often get clogged with snow — if you can do so safely, clearing snow from these areas can help keep water away from your home.
- Rearrange your storage: in case water does get into your basement, be sure to keep any valuables, chemicals, or anything else you'd like to keep dry off the floor.
- Check your appliances: clear out space around your water heater, furnace and other appliances. If possible, raising your washer and dryer off the floor could help protect from water damage.
- Don't try to do too much: getting on ladders or your roof at any time of the year is a risky proposition, even more so when there is snow involved. Clearing snow and gutters is important in the prevention of water damage, but be sure to use a professional to handle any dangerous situations.
If you do suffer water damage as a result of melting snow, call us. We're here to help!
Your Bathroom Fan - Friend or Foe?
Attic mold found due to an improperly vented bathroom fan.
A properly installed vent fan is an essential weapon against bathroom mold.
We all know mold likes moisture. That’s why bathrooms are so vulnerable to mold. Water that gets onto the bathroom floor is an obvious concern. Of even greater concern is moisture in the air –moisture that can permeate wall and ceiling materials because of poor bathroom ventilation.
When the bathroom fills with a fog of moist air while taking a hot shower, thousands of moisture droplets can condense on cool wall, ceiling and window surfaces in the bathroom and also in adjacent rooms. Some of this moist air can even penetrate into unseen building cavities through cracks and gaps around electrical outlets and molding. Because damp organic material (wood, paper-faced wallboard, paint resins, paper-faced fiberglass insulation) makes ideal mold food, we have the makings of a mold invasion.
Vent fan to the rescue–or not?
The bathroom vent fan is a major weapon against bathroom mold. The fan’s job is to move moist air outside the house before it can condense and permeate into mold-prone materials.
However, some builders mistakenly allow the fan to blow moist air into the attic, a practice that simply moves the mold problem to another part of the house. During cold weather, warm, moist air blown into a cooler attic will deposit its moisture on attic rafters and roof sheathing. Telltale black mold stains typically result from this ventilation error. Eventually, this mold can develop into wood rot.
When you find mold
Mold spreads quickly, so a minor mold infestation can quickly escalate into a major problem. SERVPRO of Haverhill/Newburyport is dedicated to responding immediately when you contact us. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces cost.
We specialize in water and mold damage restoration, the cornerstone of our business. We have the training and expertise to safely handle any mold situation.
- Applied Microbial Remediation Specialist
- Water Damage Restoration Technician
- Applied Structural Drying Technician
Our advanced equipment helps to detect and stop the source of water feeding the mold. We then isolate the affected area using a negative air pressure chamber.
Call Us! We Can help! 978-374-8555